Punjab to vaccinate over 8.6m children against polio

Punjab will hold polio vaccination campaigns in 14 districts from March 8, Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Khawaja Imran Nazir announced here on Monday.

“The Sehat Muhafiz polio eradication teams of the primary and secondary health department will go house-to-house to vaccinate over 8.62 million children less than five years old in 14 districts in the campaign starting from Wednesday,” he said.

The campaigns will be held in Lahore, DG Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Rawalpindi, RY Khan, Sheikhupura, Khanewal, Lodhran, TT Singh, Vehari, Bahawalpur, and Sahiwal.

The five-day drive, which was earlier postponed, is part of the government’s efforts to provide protection to children from polio. Primary and Secondary Healthcare Secretary Ali Jan Khan urged parents to vaccinate their children during the campaign.

Emergency Operation Coordinator Dr Munir Ahmed said that a recent polio case from Lodhran and the consistently persistent positive environmental samples were a cause of concern. “Positive samples in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, and DG Khan and now a polio case in Lodhran highlight the need to reach out to all children,” he said.

Punjab reported no polio cases in 2016, but the case of a four-month child from Lodhran ended Punjab’s streak of 14 polio-free months. Pakistan reported a total of 20 cases in 2016, with 8 from Sindh, 8 from KPK, 2 from FATA, and 2 from Balochistan.

Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the three countries that still have polio. The Punjab government will be focusing on southern districts as well as Rawalpindi and Lahore because of persistently positive environmental samples.